WASHINGTON — With just two weeks to go until the critical midterm elections, an overwhelming majority of Americans say the United States is greatly divided, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Few Americans believe those stark divisions will get better anytime soon.
The newly released survey found that more than 8 in 10 Americans think the country is greatly divided about important values. Just 20 percent of Americans say they think the country will become less divided over the next few years, and 39 percent think things will get worse. A strong majority of Americans, 77 percent, say they are dissatisfied with the state of politics in the country.
The poll was conducted Oct. 11-14 in the final sprint to the midterm elections, in which President Donald Trump has been rallying his supporters to turn out to vote in November. Overall, 59 percent of Americans disapprove of how Trump, a Republican, is handling his job as president, while 40 percent of Americans approve.
How Americans view Trump divides along partisan lines, according to the poll. While 83 percent of Republicans approve of how Trump is handling his job, 92 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents say they do not approve.
According to the poll, nearly half of Americans say they aren’t hearing enough from campaigns about the issues that matter most to them. Fifty-four percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans say they are hearing too little about key issues.
Overall, top issues for Americans include health care, education, economic growth, Social Security and crime, each of which was called very important by at least three-quarters of Americans.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, compared with 25 percent who say they are satisfied. But Americans are slightly more likely to be satisfied with the way things are going in their state or in their local community.
Majorities of Americans also say that they are dissatisfied with the gap between the rich and the poor, race relations and environmental conditions. But there are partisan splits. Eighty-three percent of Democrats are dissatisfied with the gap between the wealthy and the poor, compared with 43 percent of Republicans. Of environmental conditions, 75 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Republicans say they are dissatisfied. And while 77 percent of Democrats say they’re dissatisfied with race relations, about 50 percent of Republicans say the same.
Democrats and Republicans also are divided on how important they consider each of those issues to be. About 8 in 10 Democrats but no more than a third of Republicans call income inequality, environmental issues or racism very important.
The past year has seen the United States reckon with accusations of sexual misconduct that ranged from inappropriate comments to rape and with a slew of high-profile men forced to resign or be fired. Overall, about 6 in 10 Americans said the issue of misconduct was important to them. But 73 percent of women said the issue was very important, compared with 51 percent of men. Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to call sexual misconduct important, 79 percent to 39 percent.
According to the poll, 43 percent of Americans somewhat or strongly disapprove of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court after a bruising confirmation fight that included allegations of excessive drinking and an accusation of sexual assault dating back to Kavanaugh’s teenage years. Thirty-five percent of Americans said they strongly or somewhat strongly approved of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Overall, 59 percent of Americans said Supreme Court appointments are very important now, which is similar to the percentage who said that in 2016. But two years ago, Democrats and Republicans were more similar in how important they saw these nominations. Now, there is a 20 percentage point gap: 73 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans say Supreme Court appointments are very important to them.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,152 adults was conducted Oct. 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.